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Implementing the Bureaucratic Black Arts?

Cliff posted about 9 years ago | from the management-voodoo dept.

Businesses 376

bildungsroman_yorick asks: "Many unlucky workers in their careers have encountered the bureaucracy, the careerism, the project death march and the office politics that hold people back from performing to high standards of work. In some office environments that I've encountered half a supervisors workload involves giving your workers room to operate and protecting them from the bureaucracy and politics. I have come to realise that it's the natural way of business culture to behave this way and the only way I can let my workers be productive is to be one step ahead of the politics, even if that means breaking the rules. So what I'd like to ask some of the more savvier Slashdot denizen: What are some of the bureaucratic black arts that you've performed in your workplace to work around the office politics and get your work done on time and to a high standard?"

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Very important! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13693717)

I found some FORST in my PIST!

That's Simple (5, Funny)

Knight Thrasher (766792) | about 9 years ago | (#13693720)

Want your employees to get more work done? Filter out Slashdot on your network proxy. :P

(Totally kidding!!)

Re:That's Simple (1)

ewg (158266) | about 9 years ago | (#13693806)

Done, and donConnection closed by remote host.

Re:That's Simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13693859)

They tried that at the company I work for and all hell broke loose. No really, people ran around screaming while others just sort of aimlessly meandered around, well more than usual anyway.

I guess you could call it the Slackless effect.

The Art of War (5, Interesting)

mollog (841386) | about 9 years ago | (#13693886)

Holy cow, this is a hot button for me. Re-orgs are a way of life where I work. The directive of an effective manager to his/her developers is "Speed and course." Don't allow the developers to be distracted by upper management churn.

Don't think you can take the high road and have your career survive. If someone's playing dirty, don't try to overlook it, deal with it.

When dealing with a boss with a case of NIH, try to make your ideas sound like they were your boss's ideas. Until you replace your boss.

Perceptions count for a lot. Manage perceptions.

When dealing with management, be insincere. Tell them what they want to hear. If you have to 'fudge' numbers or gloss over messy details, do it. Don't get sentimental about facts and truth and honesty. If your project is virtually done, don't say it's virtually done, tell them it's done. If a sudden problem arises, don't lose your cool. Gather the facts until you know what the true nature of the problem is before reporting about it. Your job is to deliver results, make sure you don't bring bad news unless you really, really have to.

If another group is reducing your effectiveness for reasons of overlapping turf, jealousy, history, whatever, try make an accomodation with them, even if it's temporary. (Keep your friends close, your enemies closer). Watch out for the agendas of underlings. If you have a politically motivated person working for you, get them gone.

Maintain the avenues of communications. Don't allow someone to bypass you in either direction. If someone bypassed you with their idea, either take charge of the project, or end the project.

Use dog psychology when dealing with people; reward good behavior, punish bad behavior, be consistent.

Dog psychology; there is an Alpha, be the alpha or chaos will follow.

Maintain perspective. You may love the work and the project, but to the CEO and his direct reports, you're a liability. Be prepared to move on and leave the work and project behind.

Life is an adventure.

FIRST POST! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13693721)

FROM THE FLIPSIDE!

Never lend your stapler to someone else (0)

Tuna_Shooter (591794) | about 9 years ago | (#13693722)

Make sure your TPS reports are ALWAYS late.

Re:Never lend your stapler to someone else (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13693940)

yeah..... but did you get the memo?

Wow... (2, Funny)

MetalliQaZ (539913) | about 9 years ago | (#13693723)

An "ask slashdot" that I actually will want to read.
Never thought this day would come.

It takes some practice (5, Informative)

b0r1s (170449) | about 9 years ago | (#13693726)

A few things that have helped me:

1) Honesty works better with technical folks; sugarcoating works better with business folks.

2) Reverse (1) for those concerned about financials or with titles beginning with 'C' - CFOs and COOs like honesty.

3) If your organization has more than 3 divisions, make sure that no employee is less than 5 levels away from the top - too many levels makes communication impossible

Re:It takes some practice (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13693828)

"1) Honesty works better with technical folks; sugarcoating works better with business folks."

This is true in my experience. The study published yesterday showing that liars have a 26% excess of white matter in their brains confirms what I have known my whole life. Liars are basically less intelligent people. When dealing with the pathalogical liars that account for the majority of 'business people' you are best off actually lying to them a little bit and quite obviously. Then they will include you in their 'trust' circle as one of them. Technical people, the 'aspergers' types with a balance favoring grey matter (which actually does the cognition, white matter is merely cognitive 'glue') are treated with fear and suspicion by MBA 'business types'. And I think you are correct that accountants and fiscal officers tend to fall more into the geek psychology bracket, they place a higher value on truth.

Re:It takes some practice (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13693904)

Asperger's is not a condition of high IQ.

The part of the brain which allows you to quickly shift your focus of attention is underdeveloped, damaged, stunted, constricted, or otherwise too small.

This lends itself to technical jobs, where you stare at a screen all day and think about the same problem for long stretches of time, but it also makes it almost impossible to "read faces" well, which means you will be both a bad liar, and also have a hard time fitting in to social situations (because you don't always pick up the subtle cues which should tell you that you are annoying somebody.)

It's not a super-power, it's a (very minor) disability. It is still entirely possible to have the syndrome, be terrible at lying, and yet still be as dumb as a bag of hammers.

Re:It takes some practice (1)

TheRev (109322) | about 9 years ago | (#13693875)

Ford has like 20 levels, communication is very difficult between the floor where the tire hits the road and the top management.

Re:It takes some practice (1)

HardCase (14757) | about 9 years ago | (#13693897)

The biggest thing that helped me was to listen to my friends until I started hearing some of them talking about how they liked their jobs. I got hired by their company and quit my job.

It took a while, but paying attention to what other people were saying about their work helped me get a nice job that I enjoyed.

-h-

Re:It takes some practice (2, Insightful)

ThePromenader (878501) | about 9 years ago | (#13693937)

You're onto something when you cut office politics down to "technical" and "business" folks, but lets cut'em off at the ankles instead of at the b***s : There's "work" folks and there's "money" folks. The former think of their trade before the money it generates; for the latter it's the other way around. Some of the latter don't even have a trade to fall back on, which makes them the most ruthless bastards existing in the workforce, and why your business will fail should they make it to the 'top'.

Actually you can apply this to everything, even government. There you've found an easy explanation for the present day situation: spinnin' and lyin' to keep the economy from evolving past today's biggest "easy buck" schemes.

Re:It takes some practice (1)

the morgawr (670303) | about 9 years ago | (#13694014)

Your statement is way off. If you want to be successful you must be effective. That means producing something that customers will buy at a cost that makes you a profit. People who don't think about the return and people who don't think about the product are idiots.

There are only two types of products: goods (stuff) and services (doing something better/cheeper than someone can do it for themselves). There are only two kinds of employees: those who provide the good or service and those who's job it is to make the others more effective. Good managers (and good HR, IT, etc) can dramatically increase the productivity of a team; bad managers are worse than nothing. The OP is doing exactly right -- trying to shield his team for the BS so that they can be more productive.

Re:It takes some practice (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13693938)

I have found an equal mixture of lying and delegating to be effective. The trick is to make sure you're delegating to people that you can bully, this is not too hard with a bunch of beta-male geeks to choose from.

Luv,

Your PHB

I just do my job (-1, Offtopic)

LiNKz (257629) | about 9 years ago | (#13693731)

and go home. As long as I have a job, I'm happy.

Re:I just do my job (1)

utnow (808790) | about 9 years ago | (#13693869)

long live the proletariat! baaah...

Hell Yea (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13693732)

What's up NIGGERS
I got dicks in socks
cocks on chopping blocks
My rhymes are fearful
My semen can fill up an earful
Just ask Kathleen Fent
CmdrTaco is incompetent
Y'all can't fuck with this
Malda can't code in CSS

Poison in the Coffee. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13693735)

And on the chairs, and the pens, on the keyboards, in the air conditioning.

POISON POISON POISON

my first rule has always been .... (1, Offtopic)

petes_PoV (912422) | about 9 years ago | (#13693737)

that it's easier to get forgiveness than permission.
so long as you can tell which way the (metaphorical) wind is blowing and you're sure that you are right, just get on and do it!

Otherwise keep your CV handy

Re:my first rule has always been .... (1)

pnlmag (919502) | about 9 years ago | (#13693942)

You didn't leave any backdoors?

don't even bother -- there is no solution (5, Insightful)

yagu (721525) | about 9 years ago | (#13693739)

I worked 21 years for my company. I was good at what I did. I was also unconventional. I worked my way to the highest position in the technical ranks. My salary was out of band (never asked for that, btw) because of my accomplishments. I received the highest technical achievement award possible from my company. I wrote an application that saved (hard dollars) my company 10's of millions of dollars, and kept them out of legal hot water. That program is still being used today and is a core technology there.

A year ago I was told in an effort to "cut costs", it was time for me to go. Done. Finito.

Whatever you do, take care of yourself. My (admittedly anecdotal) experience says there are no friends out there. There is no reason to strive for excellence based on your company's desires. Turns out that doesn't matter.

Make yourself happy. Set your own standards.

The business world is a fucked place, and if you ever try to make sense of it, you're pumping oxygen needlessly to those brain cells.

I think for me the crime in all of this was I used to want to do as much for my company as possible. There was hardly an evening on my way home at night I wasn't thinking of ways to make my company a better company. And, I was pretty good at contributing to that. I'm still good at what I do, but I don't think I'll ever have an ounce of good will for a company. Bottom line, companies evolve to where people who like and want power become the ones running the show, and generally speaking they are fucktards whose acumen is inversely proportional to their salary.

There is no spoon (er gold watch) (5, Insightful)

meadandale (605319) | about 9 years ago | (#13693820)

The days of working for a company to retirement are long gone, as you've found out.

Everyone is disposable and in the revolving door of upper managment at most companies, noone with any power is going to recognize YOUR accomplishments past the next board meeting.

Having loyalty to your employer is laudible but generally misplaced. Your primary loyalty should be to yourself. Generally that means working hard and looking out for the company in that this generally results in raises and promotions for you in the long run. However, you can never forget that at the end of the day, you are just a cog in the company wheel and in terms of upper managment, one cog is as good as another.

As long as you don't lose sight of this perspective, you'll do fine. But, as soon as you start seeing yourself as the 'guy that saved the company millions of dollars' you are heading down the wrong road. Corporate memories are very short these days--they have absolutely NO loyalty to you, even if you single handedly have kept the company afloat for the last 21 years.

Re:There is no spoon (er gold watch) (3, Insightful)

ClosedSource (238333) | about 9 years ago | (#13693862)

"Generally that means working hard and looking out for the company in that this generally results in raises and promotions for you in the long run."

You're generally correct, but it's also important to keep in mind that looking out for the company isn't always the same as looking out for your managment and the latter is much more important to keeping your job than the former.

Re:There is no spoon (er gold watch) (5, Insightful)

Courageous (228506) | about 9 years ago | (#13693912)

You're generally correct, but it's also important to keep in mind that looking out for the company isn't always the same as looking out for your managment and the latter is much more important to keeping your job than the former.

Neither one is imporant. What's important is being perceived to be looking out for the company and management. No matter how effective you are, if you are not seen or heard, you do not exist. While this observation of mine may appear to be a bit sardonic, one should pay keen attention to it -- and the larger the company, the keener the need for the attention...

C//

Re:There is no spoon (er gold watch) (3, Insightful)

radtea (464814) | about 9 years ago | (#13693919)

Having loyalty to your employer is laudible but generally misplaced.

Nothing misplaced is laudible.

No one would ever say, "Ignoring the force of gravity is laudible but generally misplaced."

Why? Because ignoring the force of gravity can get you hurt. Likewise, having loyalty to your employer can get you hurt. This is not to say that you shouldn't do good work for what you are paid, but it is morally wrong to give loyalty that is not reciprocated.

Re:There is no spoon (er gold watch) (1)

ultranova (717540) | about 9 years ago | (#13694002)

but it is morally wrong to give loyalty that is not reciprocated.

Why is this morally wrong ? Stupid, yes, but what does it have to do with morality ?

Good post (3, Insightful)

ClosedSource (238333) | about 9 years ago | (#13693849)

Your post also disputes the belief of some Slashdotters that only the incompetent get laid off, so they are safe (does any Slashdotter believe that he/she is anything less than a star performer?)

There should be a required course at universities that warns students of the dangers of becoming too committed to your job. I can just imagine the howl that would shortly ensue from the corporate community if such a policy were put in place.

Re:don't even bother -- there is no solution (1)

leifb (451760) | about 9 years ago | (#13693889)

I dearly hope you were saving most of that out-of-band salary, because now it's time to start your own company.

Re:don't even bother -- there is no solution (1)

methano (519830) | about 9 years ago | (#13693905)

I couldn't have said it better. A few of years ago I worked for a biotech that got bought by a large Pharma. I was responsible for inventing, developing and delivering new technology that the large pharma was able to peddle for over $70 million. I was responsible for the packaging and delivery of that too. I worked very hard and was always thinking of how to do right by the company. Three years later and new middle management and I found myself on the wrong end of a bad performance review. I'm convinced that I would have been fired after a year on "probation" except that the company mercifully decided to lay off the whole division. A year later they closed the site.

I believe that it is reasonable and even noble to be loyal to people and to yourself but it is stupid to be loyal to a company. A company has no soul and no ethics except those of the people that inhabit it. The people can change pretty quickly and with it goes the soul.

Re:don't even bother -- there is no solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13693976)

I hope you realize that a good part of your recovery is realizing that you largely have only yourself to blame, for taking seriously all those management platitudes about the company have loyalty toward it's "human resources" (and *every* company's management spews those same platitudes) and/or interpreting your salary as a sign of the company's loyalty. Their loyalty to you is purely based on your economic value to them. Your compensation is therefore never more than a calculated, strategic method of keeping you or nudging you out the door. When the company no longer needs you, all "loyalty" will dissipate. It's in the company's interest, however, to foster the illusion of loyalty and gratitude in the minds of their employees.

Most employees go along with the deceit, some actually but into it, but in my experience, engineering and IT employees are largely immune to it. That's why "Office Space" and "Dilbert" ring resonate with us. For your recovery I prescribe Dilbert and multiple viewings of "Office Space" until you internalize how the world really works. :-)

I guess part of your problem is having stayed with one company for so long, an almost unbelievably long time for the IT industry, and as a result you didn't experience what nearly all industry veterans experienced in beginning of our careers -- our first layoff. Your naivete is showing in your repeating use of the phrases like "my company." While it many be useful to feign company loyalty, it's a big mistake to take it too seriously.

At one point in my career I made a conscious decision to abandon pretenses and began referring to me employer as "they" instead of "we." Whenever I started doing this at a new employer, I noticed that invariably my peers would start doing likewise!

It probably didn't endear me to management, but what I learned is similar to what soldiers in foxholes learn -- my loyaties are only owed to my buddies in the trenches, who provide future references or recommendations that open the doors in future jobs. Going from job to job, their faces were only constant, and the survivors were those who networked with the most colleagues. It's the kind of professional networking that built Silicon Valley and made the industry what it is today.

Re:don't even bother -- there is no solution (1)

fm6 (162816) | about 9 years ago | (#13693977)

Fucking line-item mentality. Your high salary made you a target, never mind the fact that you earned it — or that your company probably hurt its bottom line by getting rid of you.

But that kind of bureaucratic stupidity doesn't mean "there are no friends out there". It just limits what your friends can do for you.

Beg forgiveness later (2, Insightful)

skoda (211470) | about 9 years ago | (#13693748)

It is better to beg forgiveness than ask permission.

Act first, the paperwork will follow.

Timecards reflect essential truth, if not literal truth of when work is done.

Delegate to those with better bureaucratic kung-fu.

Re:Beg forgiveness later (1)

CdBee (742846) | about 9 years ago | (#13693823)

Best post so far

Businesses implement procedure as a methodology to get things done in an accountable way and keep wayward employees in-line. They know that evolution is critical to their survival
If you know your method will bring results, either get verbal permission - if you know your boss trusts you - or do it on a test basis and report showing your improved results and seek official sanction to continue, quoting the benefits and most importantly, showing that your boss hasn't lost control of you or been undermined by your plan.

I've rewritten my job spec using these methods and benefitted myself and my employers.

Re:Beg forgiveness later (3, Informative)

Shoeler (180797) | about 9 years ago | (#13693835)

Timecards reflect essential truth, if not literal truth of when work is done.

That, unfortunately, is a load of so much horseypoop. I've worked for MANY companies that believed that, and all you had was useless middle managers working late who said they worked their butts off, but just wandered the halls shooting the shit during the day and did god-only-knows-what during the "late shift".

I did 10x more work then they did in the 8 hours I was there, but was chastized for not working more hours, thus lowering my effictive hourly wage since said company also did not believe in overtime.

Needless to say I got the hell out of dodge (the place, not the company) as soon as I could.

The Tao of Wally (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13693992)

Make the bureaucracy work for you.

ALWAYS follow procedure; ALWAYS ask permission; ALWAYS insist on required specifications. Live it. Embrace it.

This will have two results:

1. Your boss (and your boss's boss) will love you for being the only one in the whole goddamn company who seems to give a crap about all those "standard practices" his committee worked so hard on.

2. Any project your team is working on is doomed.

3. Those who didn't follow procedures will be blamed. Your diligent activity will be very visible, as there will be a long history of e-mails in which you "communicating" about the project to show how serious you were about "staying on top of it." Meanwhile, since your fellow engineers toiled away at actual work, completely invisibly to management, while you were browsing slashdot and slowly enjoying your coffee, most of the heat will fall on them. Specifically...

4. There will be a huge meeting about improving procedures to make the company more efficient. Techies will be required to log their time in 7-second intervals, updating the log once per half-hour. Every code comment will have to be copied to a Word document, printed, and filed alphabetically by project manager name. Version control will be applied to every 12-line VB script. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth... and you will sigh with resignation that this is how it must be, secretly delighted that you can continue to game the system and draw a huge salary while never actually doing anything that ever makes any money for your Dark Overlords.

Posted anonymously, because I'm logging this time as "special projects - methodology." (Woo-hoo, working on a Saturday! I must really be hard-core about my job!!!)

Re:Beg forgiveness later (2, Insightful)

radtea (464814) | about 9 years ago | (#13693995)

Timecards reflect essential truth, if not literal truth of when work is done.

Timecards measure inputs, not outputs. Measuring inputs and assuming they serve as adequate surrogates for outputs is bad engineering and bad management.

Case in point: at Three Mile Island the control room systems reported that a given valve was closed when in fact it was locked solidly open. The problem was that the system was designed to measure current running to the motor that controlled the valve, which has an extremely weak relationship to the movement of the valve. Both mechanical and electrical failures could decouple the input and the output, and did.

So one of the most important things about dealing with suits is to make sure you measure outputs, and make sure the suits know that your team has good outputs for the inputs (ie. high productivity.)

If you're challenged on your team not having low enough productivity (ie. not working long enough hours) it is important to have the latest output measures at hand, and to point out that maximum productivity is achieved at around 35 hours per week. It is also important to be able to cite the extensive studies across many industries that back up that uncontroversial fact. If anyone ever talks in a meeting about the number of hours they work, or their team works, as if that was a good thing, cut them off immediately with "On my team we focus on outputs, not inputs..." NEVER let anyone get away with pretending that long hours are anything other than low productivity.

I am an extremely quantitative manager, and the people who have worked for me love it, and the people who I have worked for hate it. It shorts out all their monkey heirarchy circuits by actually focussing on what the business is supposed to be doing (being productive) rather than on what it is actually doing (stroking the monkey egos of managers and execs.)

Lest anyone think this is an anti-business rant, I should point out that I think these problems are universal human problems. They can be found in political parties, labour unions, charitable organizations, you-name-it.

My best solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13693754)

I have found that sleeping with the bosses. If the boss is ugly sleeping with him or her makes it even easier for me to give my workers room to do their jobs as my boss is extremely grateful for the screw. It helps if you know how to have really good sex.

Ash Nazg Durbatuluk... (5, Insightful)

USSJoin (896766) | about 9 years ago | (#13693761)

No, honestly though. Knowledge is power, in many different ways. And there is a correct way to implement this in an office (or school, for those of you still embroiled in it) environment.

1) Volunteer.
Yes, yes. We all know that nobody likes extra work. However, you'd be surprised how many simple little things one can get through this-- like, for instance, one can acquire extra passwords and keys, because they were needed for whatever job, and the person giving them out figures that you might be needed again. Useful.

2) Subvert.
It is often hard (it sure is for me) to remember that power structures need not be crashed *through*. If you can afford the time-- and it usually isn't much, even when you're working under deadline-- you might try simply wedging underneath whatever structure it is. For instance, instead of simply stating that you're the boss, they have to do your will (even though it may well be true), come up with the most roundabout way of doing something, that doesn't involve them. Next time, you can use a less roundabout way... shortly, those higher up, and those lower down, from you will know you so well, you can implement solutions (of whatever nature) more effectively than anyone, and the people who you didn't like dealing with, are shoved off to the margins. Helps to shed a crocodile tear as they are pink slipped (if you're in the workplace) or merely go smoke pot, discontent with their newfound uselessness.

3) Bash.
Of course, once in a while, things that have to be done, have to be done *now*. And that is the appropriate time to simply tell people to get the heck out of your way. But the most important thing is to keep track of how *often* you're doing this. Apply the first two provisions generously, and you can *maybe* get away with this once a month. Not as generously, and it might have to be once a year, if you don't want people to hate you. What's important here is not the *actual* proportion of times you use this technique, but the *perceived* frequency. And the latter is nearly always higher than the former.

Of course, if all these techniques are too complex, well, then, I wish you luck, as you'll need it. But careful application of these ideas can lead to... great rewards.

Re:Ash Nazg Durbatuluk... (1)

nine-times (778537) | about 9 years ago | (#13693910)

In line with these: 4) Intimidate. The worst bureaucrats are often cowards. It's kind of like the old idea that if you want to get rid of a bully, punch him once in the nose. Now, it'll take more finesse than a punch in the nose, but find ways to establish yourself as an authority, and the merely bureaucratic will become afraid to cross you. and the corollary of that is: 5) Train others to take orders. Get used to telling them, in no uncertain terms, what you need for things. Start out making these seem like requests. Slowly shift those requests into technical issues of "If you want A, you'll have to give me B." Make this a purely technical issue, i.e. "I can't give you A without B," as opposed to "I won't give you A without B." Give full explanations as to why, and make sure you're right. Give them reason to trust you. Let them learn to trust you with determinations of what you need, and once they trust you, make your explanations complex, incomprehensible, and long. Make them bored with your explanations. When you're sure they're bored, start replacing your explanations with "trust me". This process takes some practice (and good instincts), but if you're careful and you do this right, you can create a situation where you can tell people, "I need you to do C," and they'll do it, no questions asked.

Remember the Milgram experiment [wikipedia.org] ? People respond to authority, and having a corner office or an important title aren't the only ways to get people to view you as an authority. Find ways to get people to listen to you, get people to trust you, keep your head up, appear proud, appear to "know what you're doing", etc. Yes, you might say that my advice boils down to "beat them at their own game". If you're fighting people who've gained authority through technicalities and fancy titles, you just need to find another way to steal authority for yourself.

Re:Ash Nazg Durbatuluk... (4, Informative)

nine-times (778537) | about 9 years ago | (#13693969)

Damn. Just goes to show, always preview. Should read:
In line with these:

4) Intimidate.
The worst bureaucrats are often cowards. It's kind of like the old idea that if you want to get rid of a bully, punch him once in the nose. Now, it'll take more finesse than a punch in the nose, but find ways to establish yourself as an authority, and the merely bureaucratic will become afraid to cross you. and the corollary of that is:

5) Train others to take orders.
Get used to telling them, in no uncertain terms, what you need for things. Start out making these seem like requests. Slowly shift those requests into technical issues of "If you want A, you'll have to give me B." Make this a purely technical issue, i.e. "I can't give you A without B," as opposed to "I won't give you A without B." Give full explanations as to why, and make sure you're right. Give them reason to trust you.

Let them learn to trust you to determine for yourself what you need, and once they trust you, make your explanations complex, incomprehensible, and long. Make them bored with your explanations. When you're sure they're bored, start replacing your explanations with "trust me". Eventually, drop the "trust me" and you'll find you're just telling people what to do. This process takes some practice (and good instincts), but if you're careful and you do this right, you can create a situation where you can tell people, "I need you to do C," and they'll do it, [almost] no questions asked.

Remember the Milgram experiment [wikipedia.org] ? People respond to authority, and having a corner office or an important title aren't the only ways to get people to view you as an authority. Find ways to get people to listen to you, get people to trust you, keep your head up, appear proud, appear to "know what you're doing", etc. Learn to lead, and people will follow. Yes, you might say that my advice boils down to "beat them at their own game". If you're fighting people who've gained authority through technicalities and fancy titles, you just need to find another way to steal authority for yourself.

Ash Nazg Durbatuluk...Slashdot PSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13693926)

"No, honestly though. Knowledge is power, in many different ways."

And that's one to grow on. Yo Joe!

Re:Ash Nazg Durbatuluk...Slashdot PSA (1)

nine-times (778537) | about 9 years ago | (#13693939)

um... that's "knowledge is half the battle!"

Re:Ash Nazg Durbatuluk...Slashdot PSA (1)

deesine (722173) | about 9 years ago | (#13694016)

You got it kiddo! Go Joe!

Re:Ash Nazg Durbatuluk... (1)

rgmoore (133276) | about 9 years ago | (#13694023)

2) Subvert.

Working well with others is a key part of this. In any large bureaucracy, there are two organizational charts. One is the formal chart that shows how the people at the top think that things work. The other is the informal chart that shows how people at the bottom actually get things done. Learn the second chart and become a key part of it. You want to be able to solve problems, so make sure that other's know you're part of the solution yourself. Give and return favors for other people who get things done. That way they'll owe you one when you need their help, or at least they'll know that you'll pay them back when they need your help.

If you often need help from somebody who doesn't need your help, see if you can be nice to them some other way. Always remember to thank people who have helped you out, even if helping you is officially part of their job. Show that you know and appreciate it when they go above and beyond to help you. The helpful people in big bureaucracies take pride in getting things done, and they can be just as appreciative for recognition of their work as they can for tangible rewards.

Always get it in writing! (5, Insightful)

Oh the Huge Manatee (919359) | about 9 years ago | (#13693765)

Never rely on undocumented verbal agreements. If you are in a meeting where a verbal agreement is reached, ALWAYS send an e-mail (or paper memo) documenting what was agreed upon. Keeping an unassailable 'paper trail' regarding projects, policies and decisions can protect you against the all-too-common managers who like to lie in order to shift blame when something goes wrong.

Getting things done (3, Informative)

totallygeek (263191) | about 9 years ago | (#13693770)

What are some of the bureaucratic black arts that you've performed in your workplace to work around the office politics and get your work done on time and to a high standard?


Break the rules. Break the law. 110, 220, whatever it takes.

Re:Getting things done (1)

edwazere (87203) | about 9 years ago | (#13694000)

Volts?

Re:Getting things done (4, Informative)

tom's a-cold (253195) | about 9 years ago | (#13694003)

I second that. On one of my first performance appraisals, I was rated very highly for getting everything done well and on time, but I was told that I should learn how and when to work around the system and be more willing to do so when necessary. This came from one of our VP's, a great guy. One of the best bits of mentoring advice I ever got.

Put more theoretically: Bagehot, long ago, when writing on the British political system, distinguished the "efficient" from the "dignified" parts of the polity. On a smaller scale, the same is true in organizations. There's the org chart and the officially-sanctioned roles and bodies, then there are the social networks by which work really gets done. I've done some analysis of social networks while developing collaboration solutions for my clients, and it's interesting how seldom they correspond with the formal organization.

Incidentally, this is why Sarbanes-Oxley is profound, destructive idiocy, despite its good intentions. If most organizations only operated in accordance with their documented roles and responsibilities, they would be out of business.

As for the voodoo arts of bureaucracy, here are a few highlights:

1. Learn to run a meeting. Know what you want from the meeting and grease it with the key participants beforehand. Come with an agenda, document decisions and (especially) actions. With dates. Then, hold follow-ups to status the actions, and escalate as soon as the actions aren't delivered on. This is critical: document commitments, and document when those commitments aren't being met. And be sure to supply need dates that allow you to go to Plan B if Plan A goes wrong. That also means that it's up to you to know what Plan B is.

2. Expect insane delays from any external organization you depend on. Escalate the schedule risk of these delays to your management and have them negotiate service-level agreements with them ASAP.

3. Identify well-protected non-performers early, and give them highly visible, non-critical tasks with clearly-defined completion criteria. They'll either come through, or they'll screw up in front of an audience. If they're seen to fail, you can push them aside into boring, non-critical roles or get rid of them.

4. If you're doing project management, be sure that you don't have anyone on your team unless you write their performance appraisal or (if they're contractors) decide whether to pay their firm. Matrixed organizations are set up specifically to prevent accountability. If you don't own their ass, they don't work for you, they're just getting in the way.

5. Get high-level allies. If you're on an IT project, make it clear to your business sponsors where the bottlenecks are. They're usually far more capable of solving those problems than you are on your own. And always state the problem in objective terms of "This is what we have to have and this is what we're getting" rather than "This guy's a moron." Even if he's a moron. Even better if you have suggestions on how the solution should look.

6. If your external dependency is on a non-performer and you can't convince them to do the job right, suck it up and have one of your resources do it for them. And make sure that it's clear to everyone that this is what you've done. Then, if they refuse to accept the work, make them explain why it's going to take them three weeks to solve a problem that you have already solved.

7. If you're in a corner and the only way out is to violate the procedures, consider the consequences of complying, and of not complying. Then decide. Most businesses won't fire you for getting the job done unless somebody's put in danger of incarceration by your bending the rules. More typically, you're a hero if you deliver on budget and on schedule. If you don't, nobody gives you credit for failing even if you did it by the book.

management ideas? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13693773)

sun tzus art of war.

first the meeting room, AND THEN THE WORLD. D:

seriously though, i think that little book has every minute detail of how to work effectively and powerfuly every imagined.

Ahhhhhh Cliff. What will we do without you? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13693777)

I dedicate this memoir for Cliff [pbfcomics.com] and this topic of Black Arts. I wish White Arts wasn't all the Year 'cept February; I'm happy to support racial segregation month Now on October just as well on February. I love niggers, and their nigger Arts, just as Jesus tolds me to "love niggers as you would love yourself." My penis is 10 inches long, so I'll go attach a 20 pound ball-and-chain to a nigger's penis and force him to go deep-sea fishing wit me. hurrah.

Dam cracka White Devil! You and jew keep us down! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13693845)

The pigs: WHITE DEVILS! [pbfcomics.com] Allies with Jew neighbor need be shot all now! Take justice in the streets my niggas! Say NO to Little Angels by Raphael, and say Wee-bak-nan-go-boo-ga-min-clock-clook to Black Little Angels by Tyrophael. [picturesofjesus4you.com]

Black Jesus [picturesofjesus4you.com] kicks ass on whitebread Jesus. Buy now, for only 9,95 and get a free servins yall of Motha Fucka 'n' Aunt Jemimas CHITLIN MAPLE SYRRUP GRITTS CASAROLE!

Bank (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13693781)

I'm a IT contractor who does a lot of work for one of the world's largest banks, and the level of bureaucracy at this particular organisation is larger than any other organisation I've ever worked for - generally reasonably intentioned (they have the philosophy that more hoops & red tape makes abuse of the system harder), but in practice they end up shooting themselves in the foot.

Most work that actually goes on in the bank ends up being a function of who you know and what you know rather than successful use of the system; many projects are delayed for months and years as a result of this (simply acquiring IP addresses for servers can take weeks - weeks where a project may have half a dozen contractors all sitting around at $lots a day!). There are very basic organisational changes that could be made which would solve this - such as the fact that every day, dozens of identical 2U servers from a large vendor are purchased for projects and support; in spite of this, every project is expected to organise this themself, and wait months whilst parts and machines are delivered (again, with contractors sitting around). And yet there's no central purchaser who buys servers (gets a volume discount!!) and then sells these on to the projects with a 2-3 day wait (instead of months).

The same applies to parts; memory, disks, or even patch cables - there's no centralisation and everyone's expected to buy their own.

One project I recently worked on ordered some (very common) equipment required to install their servers in a datacenter last year, and only had it delivered a few weeks ago - if it weren't for the favour the project manager called in with another department (giving him leftover equipment last year), the entire project team would've been sitting waiting the whole time.

This is representative of what truly makes the organisation tick - favours; virtually nothing gets done without it being as a personal favour (in an organisation where having IP addresses assigned or having a server racked can take weeks) from one party to another.

Re:Bank (1)

Afrosheen (42464) | about 9 years ago | (#13693924)

Judging by your alternative English spellings, I'm guessing you're in England, and this kind of beauracracy doesn't surprise me. While the corporate world is at best internally disjointed and constantly miscommunicating, nobody does it like the Brits. Brazil has a few fine scenes of a dystopian future where that kind of red tape invades every aspect of your personal life.

Golden rule to getting something done (4, Informative)

totallygeek (263191) | about 9 years ago | (#13693784)

It is easier to get forgiven than to get permission!

The answer is (1)

crottsma (859162) | about 9 years ago | (#13693797)

Blackjack and hookers.

Tao of Programming (1)

lexarius (560925) | about 9 years ago | (#13693798)

See the Tao of Programming [canonical.org] . Specifically, book 6 (Management) and book 7 (Corporate Wisdom).

This reads like "Quincey" or something! (4, Funny)

DaveCar (189300) | about 9 years ago | (#13693802)

"... only way I can let my workers be productive is to be one step ahead of the politics, even if that means breaking the rules."

Cool! They should base a TV show around you. "... a project manager who gets results - even if that means breaking the rules". Cut a scene of you being breated by beauracratic boss, you giving back snide comments and slamming something on the desk.

Maybe you could solve crime in your spare time?

McManager, PI (1)

JonnyCalcutta (524825) | about 9 years ago | (#13693973)

Ah well, you were marked as a troll. I thought it was funny though, so kudos from me. Its a pitty really , because I had some mod points this morning.

Anyway - In his bosses office...

"God damn you McManager, I've got head office on my back and they want your ass. You've got 24 hours to solve the case and finish the project or I'm taking your badge and your gun. Now get the hell out of my office!."

Books that help (4, Interesting)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | about 9 years ago | (#13693803)

The Politics of Projects [barnesandnoble.com] introduces the idea of what a political tactic looks like and how you might use one.

The Career Programmer [barnesandnoble.com] should have been called "The Guerilla Programmer". It explains vital topics like how to get a spec from people who don't want to give you one.

It was the politics that made me leave. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13693813)

I wont say where I worked, but the politics got so bad that I had to cut and run.

I was commonly heard saying "Why are you pulling this politico stuff on me? You are lying to me again. I can prove it with this. Im just trying to get things to work, now let me do my job."

They really dont like that. The office bosses conspired to get me fired. I found proof of that also.

They fired me anyways, and the lawyer said to fuckit. So fuckit. I got a huge payoff when leaving, and they seemed happy to have me go.

The company has tanked since my departure.

Start, modify and spread rumors. (1)

Associate (317603) | about 9 years ago | (#13693830)

Don't be known as a gossip, but make sure the right people hear the right things at the oh so convenient, right time. Mix truth with fiction. Mention you 'heard' someone say something without sommiting to a name. Use scenarios. Find someone to discuss such things so that they might be overheard.

My needs (2, Interesting)

kwerle (39371) | about 9 years ago | (#13693831)

Replaced the OS on my desktop with a more useful one. (goodbye, solaris)
Implemented a VPN so I could work from home (twice, both "outbound" connectors - that is, they connected out from the company so as to defeat the company NAT/Firewall).
Set up bugzilla instead of using their homebrew bug tracker (later adapted by the company).
Set up a mailing list server to handle mailing lists (mailman, I think - on an unsupported OS on a "grey box" machine that had fallen off IT's tracker list).
Dropped my ssh public key in various root or admin accounts that I was given "one shot access to - here's the password that we'll change after you log in".
Set up an http proxy tunnel so that my group could surf via tunneled ssh through my home proxy (because the company proxy server would crash for half a day at a time, and I need online javadoc, thanks).

Note that most of these things are not needed most of the time - I usually work for companies that have their shit together. But there are times when I need to get stuff done.

To my future employers who find this posting (that I have decided not to post anon): treat me honestly and respectfully, and I'll do the same with you! I need VPN access, and I need a good bug tracker, and I need a mailing list server. None of that is unreasonable. If you don't provide it, though, I will. If you don't let me, I will anyway.

Re:My needs (2, Insightful)

shmlco (594907) | about 9 years ago | (#13694010)

"Dropped my ssh public key in various root or admin accounts that I was given "one shot access to - here's the password that we'll change after you log in"."

If I EVER find an employee dropping backdoors into a system his ass is grass.

Re:My needs (2, Insightful)

billn (5184) | about 9 years ago | (#13694012)

Screw that. You play fast and loose with network security, I'd never hire you.

Dale Carnegie (4, Insightful)

MarkEst1973 (769601) | about 9 years ago | (#13693832)

Read "How to Win Friends and Influence People" and practice what it says.

No one likes a complainer. No one likes the negative guy.

Be positive. Suggest good things. Don't get your panties in a bunch if things don't go your way.

Remember that everyone has an opinion and it's quite possible to be equally valid to your's. And that's what politics is: managing people and everyone's desires to some degree of consensus.

Re:Dale Carnegie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13694022)

Or better yet, take the Dale Carnegie course. Reading the books is good, but learning how to present yourself to groups of 2-200 people in a supportive environment is much better. A former employer paid for the course after I asked. The course has benefitted me both personally and professionally. The course was efficient and profession compared to Toastmasters, which I attended and found to be very amateurish.

Turn bureaucracy against itself (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13693833)

If I find something coming my way that I see is a waste of time, but is enthusiastically endorsed by upper management, I "run it by legal," where it dies a slow, horrible death. This trick has served me, and my guys, well by allowing us to do what we do instead of getting caught up in some brain-dead management fad.

connect to the top (5, Interesting)

jptxs (95600) | about 9 years ago | (#13693838)

I've found the people at the very top are either very good people (stay there if they are) or *very* bad people (brush up your CV if you find that). Find some way to connect with them. Any way. Get a channel open. Then use it as little as possible for business. But make sure everyone know you have it. People will get out of your way and bend more easily to your will if they simply believe you can turn to the top and expose them at any moment.

Once you have that, follow the doctor/google idea: do no harm. That will make you people love you. Reasonable people will always understand you making business decisions if you show you're out to do them no harm and that you have some power to lend them (from the first point) and, finally, if you tell them what you're doing.

In Germany, at the start of major industrial thinking, they did an experiment. They called in all the workers, and told them that some scientists would be playing with things at the factory and that there would be changes. Then they called them in and said that they would be raising the temperature at work - then productivity went up. To be sure, they called everyone in and told them they would be lowering the temp. They lowered it, and productivity went up. "Odd," they thought. This went on and on with them calling meetings, making changes and having productivity go up. Finally they started interviewing the workers at length about why they were working harder and why they felt they were being more effective. They all said they liked how they felt the company kept them informed of all the plans...

Re:connect to the top (2, Informative)

jarich (733129) | about 9 years ago | (#13693902)

In Germany, at the start of major industrial thinking, they did an experiment. They called in all the workers, and told them that some scientists would be playing with things at the factory and that there would be changes. Then they called them in and said that they would be raising the temperature at work - then productivity went up. To be sure, they called everyone in and told them they would be lowering the temp. They lowered it, and productivity went up. "Odd," they thought. This went on and on with them calling meetings, making changes and having productivity go up. Finally they started interviewing the workers at length about why they were working harder and why they felt they were being more effective. They all said they liked how they felt the company kept them informed of all the plans...

The Hawthorne Effect. Very cool idea.

http://www.jaredrichardson.net/blog/2005/08/14#haw thorne-effect/ [jaredrichardson.net]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawthorne_effect/ [wikipedia.org]

Re:connect to the top (1)

FindFirstOne (643939) | about 9 years ago | (#13693906)

Do you know the source of that, i.e., what German company? I was under the impression that AT&T's human factors people came up with it in the late 1950s.

Re:connect to the top (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13694009)

heh, interestingly enough, I heard it was IBM fiddling with the lights.

make the system work for you (1)

blackcoot (124938) | about 9 years ago | (#13693839)

make friends with someone who has authority, then present the business case: x, y, and z are hurting your group's efficiency and are costing $$$ in lost productivity and morale. suggest at least one (preferrably two to three) courses of action which can lead to a positive outcome for as many people as possible. said person might champion your cause (probably taking all the kudos, but your problem is solved at least), or they might do nothing. or they might do something in between — it's a hard call. my point is you don't deal with the burocrats, you deal with their keepers. this will need to be done delicately mind you, burocrats despise nothing more than the impression that their power is being usurped.

"Black Arts"? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | about 9 years ago | (#13693853)

Putting a curse on the CIO sometimes helps.

Be stealthy, comrade (1)

Shepherd Book (888421) | about 9 years ago | (#13693858)

One useful idea comes from George Orwell: "If you keep the little rules, you can break the big ones." I've found that you can often get away with circumventing procedures, &c. by simply being quiet about it and pretending to be conscientious.

A related idea is quiet networking. I hate networking with a passion, which is one reason why I didn't last in the corporate world. But I did find it useful sometimes to be friendly with people in other departments. If you need to do an end-run around some asinine procedure or political roadblock, it helps to be able to call up your buddy in Payables (or HR, or wherever) and discreetly get the thing done. (NB: this also means you'll be incurring debts, so it's important to be willing to return a favor now and then.) So for low-level cube-dwellers, such as I was, the idea is to learn who can help you, and be nice to them. If you're a supervisor (which it sounds like you are), you may need to learn the network of each of your subordinates.

How to survive in the bureaucracy. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13693861)

1) Never let your supervisor know about a problem. The supervisor will automatically assume that he/she has to take control of the problem, making it bigger and taking much longer to fix it than if you just sweep it under the rug.

2) Your company outsourced its network to a giant "consulting" company. Remember that that "consulting" company has a lot of highly trained professional sales staff to take YOUR boss golfing, and so your boss will always believe what their consultants say rather than what you say.

3) Because your boss is hidden away in an office listening to lies from the consultants, you know far more about your job and what needs to get done than your boss, but NEVER let the boss know this! They will hold it against you and make your life a living hell.

4) The company is a monkey tree. To understand this metaphor, imagine a tree covered with monkeys, all hanging on and looking up. The senior monkeys on top look down and all they see is smiling faces. The junior monkeys on the bottom look up and all they see is...

(posted anonymously for obvious reasons...)

Chinese Bureaucracy is 5^3 years old-Ask them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13693867)

In five thousand years the Chinese have managed to master the bureaucracy. A young country, like USA, only 200+ years old has a lot to learn from the Chinese.

Most European countries, although much younger than China, are much older than the US and know much more about bureaucracy

Re:Chinese Bureaucracy is 5^3 years old-Ask them (1)

Sam Nitzberg (242911) | about 9 years ago | (#13693925)

5^3 != 5*10^3
125 != 5E3
125 != 5000
BTW
125 .LT. 200+

I think he meant 5*10^3 (1)

spineboy (22918) | about 9 years ago | (#13693998)

Chises civilization has been going on for several thousand years - although I thought the number was closer to 4000 years, and not 5k.

what's best for the company is a secondary concern (4, Insightful)

lophophore (4087) | about 9 years ago | (#13693871)

Never mind what is best for the company.

They don't give shit #1 about you or your staff.

Make sure that you and your staff remember to have a life outside of work. It is generally a lot easier to get a new job than a new family, or new friends.

Make sure that you and your staff are always growing new, marketable skills. Don't get you or your staff stuck in a technical dead end. Always be thinking about and preparing for the next gig.

Ultimately, remember that working enables lifestyle, not the other way around. Companies and their management will work you and your staff to death to line their own pockets at your expense if you will let them.

Live for yourself, not for someone else's business.

Obviously, this all goes out the window if you are self employed.

A time to build, a time to tear down (1)

Colonel Panic (15235) | about 9 years ago | (#13693882)

If things have reached an impasse where management makes it difficult to get real work done, then it's time to escape and start your own lean, mean startup company. You can gather your technical folk in the Wifi enabled coffee shop down the street and do your plotting there. Of course after about 5 years your lean, mean startup will be just about as bureaucratic as the company you left... when that happens you must restart the cycle. And so it continues endlessly.

Seriously, depending on what kind of work you're doing it's never been easier (and less expensive) to start your own venture. There's so many great open source tools available these days and hardware is pretty cheap. The only problem is getting that income stream going... you'll probably have to live on ramen for a few months.

1:4 Rule (2, Interesting)

psavo (162634) | about 9 years ago | (#13693887)

On our Program Engineering class we were told that when a coder group becomes over 4 person in size, it will need one person dedicated to its bureaucratic needs. ie. handle interoperating with other such sub-groups, handle general paperwork etc.

Even then, at most 60% of workers time (of that 4) will be real work, not interoperation with other members and subgroups.

I'd say that's pretty good estimate. When I did my work in a team of 1-2, I coded or actively worked on a solution 90% of time, when team size grew more and more time was 'wasted' communicating. (Communication also paid off as some solutions we came together to were way better than what was my first estimation of correct action).

Give them something to do (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13693888)

Paperwork is what most bureaucrats live on, so make sure they've got lots. Really big and complicated diagrams to check, copy to proofread, specification documents, accessibility frameworks, the whole shebang (boilerplate's fine, long-term memory seems not to be an issue).

While they're ticking boxes and pushing punctuation about, you can get the project done. All you really need do is make sure that the only possible outcome of their deliberations is the solution you have built. That may sound like a gamble, but given that the paperwork vortex is, in effect, infinite, it can be engineered to produce any particular project you have in mind.

The only awkwardness I encounter is when people realise that I've allowed them three months to approve the project plans for a three-month project, but that's fine. They're always happy to make it a six-month project retrospectively. Looks better on a resume, after all.

Re:Give them something to do (1)

McGregorMortis (536146) | about 9 years ago | (#13694024)

I have on occasion employed a variant of this ploy.

At my previous employer, I once had a manager that felt it was essential that he "contribute" to technical decisions. He would invariably #$#% them up, but he was the manager, what he says goes.

I learned when preparing a technical proposal to deliberately include something kinda dumb in it. The boss would find this dumb thing, suggest an improvement, and he was happy. This prevented him from $%$@#ing up something really important.

Make other departments dependant on you. (1)

marcovje (205102) | about 9 years ago | (#13693907)


Other departments should depend on you, but that should not cost too much work.

This simply to get a certain form of "currency" to use in negotiations with other departments.

Never work for a Liberal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13693911)

Really, I've worked for Liberals and Conservatives, and I've found Conservatives just what to make money, Liberals want to control you and have power over you.

I've been hired by conservatives who knew I was gay but didn't give a damn because they knew I did good work. But several times as soon as my Liberal boss found out, I was 'let go' or demoted within the week (with signs that I would soon be let go as they could justify it). It's always funny when you're given a big raise and told how great you are, and the day after they learn about your BF you're suddenly a terrible employee and they need to get rid of you!

Lie, (1)

hardcode57 (734460) | about 9 years ago | (#13693913)

lie, and lie again.

The Worst Office Politics (1)

c0d3r (156687) | about 9 years ago | (#13693960)

The worst places I saw office politics were Cisco and Juniper. I mean they do it so well its almost unnoticable. I found that just not caring and moving forward with the occasional reference to dilbert to squash things.. Its funny what happens.. they have this mail room guy with a cart and a CB radio attached to it with someone screaming "Gilbert, Gilbert Where are you?". That cart is used for other purposes when they need to remotely send a message. I even saw the IT guys at juniper purpose tell me they are going to put one of my servers in a "Better Place" and hack into it and crash it.. as if it was an accomplishment when they have admin access. Also at cisco the guys in the cubes next to me were making my machine crash with stupid kiddies scripts or something. I would have to disconnect my machine from the network when I left and setup filtering and a firewall. Some developers would almost refuse to develop the most important parts of the project and code very slowly on the key parts so they can make more money on their contracts. I swear some people purposely coded bad code for job security. Then the fuqing lab managers kept having me move my rack mounted servers to the point of where I kept getting better and better locations and was pissing them off. Or here one I've seen twice, so I immediately saw it coming but no one believed me. Cisco threatened to buy another prodcut to replace our project in order to motivate us to finish it faster (of course they were lying). I really pissed them off by finding some open source on sourceforge referenced by the "competitor" on source forge and patched it together with our code and it was sweet. When management found out about it the open source immediately disappeard from source forge including the link and they asked me to stop developing the solution. They seem deathtly afraid of open source and were coming up with every excuse to not use it. I even installed linux and connected it to the network and it was blocked of and it was constantly emailing me about how theres a virus in the machine I connect and it was just a vanilla fedora installation. They are also deathly afraid of linux and every attempt i made was squashed with some bullshit story. Many more stories where that came from. I'm out of the corporate world man.

Supporting a world where all software is honestly open source and greed free by opening the source to M$ Windoze and giving it for free and banning all binary distributions of Linux so only those who can compile the kernel using drivers they wrote for the Windoze dependent hardware they purchased can use Linux until they open source hardware somehow.
c0d3r

A "Good Attitude" (4, Insightful)

xanthan (83225) | about 9 years ago | (#13693967)

Success in a big organization has a lot to do with making friends with not just high level people (obvious), but also with people that manage paperwork for a living. Most of them are used to having people scream at them and give them a hard time. They build up a programmer-like cynicism since so many dismiss their contributions. *BE NICE TO THEM*

Taking care of them, writing them nice emails, taking 5 minutes out of your day to say "how are you doing?" is worth more than you can ever imagine. When I need anything out of the system, I now have "go to" folks that will help me navigate the system, exploit details that are not commonly known, and even bend the rules a bit.

When I cash in a favor I make sure and replenish the deed by dropping off donuts for the team, contributing to birthday gift funds, etc. Believe it or not, most of these folks are actually nice people that are trying to navigate the same mess you are. Be nice to them and you'll get far "in the system".

With respect to what another poster said about protect yourself -- that's true no matter how big or little the company. Make sure you take care of yourself. A good relationship with all the staff is a good way to accomplish that.

Who invented bureaucracy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13693968)

The Egyptians? The Chinese? The Sumerians?

Anyway,it is very old,as old as money, the state or the agriculture.

The probable succession of events is the following. The discovery of agriculture made it possible to accumulate food and other goods and as a result the golden, anarchist (stateless), egalitarian age of mankind was over, the root of all evil in society, the private property was invented, followed other evils, inequality and exploitation. In order to enforce these evil things, the state and the bureaucracy were invented.

Re:Who invented bureaucracy? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13693996)

The Jews.

What other culture has, for many millenia, embraced nothing but the sheer desire to accumulate wealth and take advantage of others?

Wrong Day! (1)

lanced (795958) | about 9 years ago | (#13693972)

You picked the wrong day to post this question. The people reading today are the geeks et al. that gave up on office politics long ago and/or never cared to begin with.

I suspect the good answers will come on Monday. The people that will give you the right answers only read slashdot at work...

For inspiration (2, Funny)

vinsci (537958) | about 9 years ago | (#13693975)

For inspiration, see R. T. Fishall's (pseudonym for Sir Patrick Moore [wikipedia.org] ) 1981 book Bureucrats: How to annoy them. The dedication in the book says: To all bureucrats and Civil Servants, everywhere. If this book makes your lives even the tiniest bit more difficult, it will have been well worth writing. :-)

Revenge (5, Funny)

Ed Almos (584864) | about 9 years ago | (#13693982)

Gentlemen

They say that revenge is a dish best served cold.

Yours in jest

Ed

For the Attention of the Accounts Department

As an aid to workflow the following procedure will become effective as of Monday morning (20th March 2001).

From now on all requests for I.T. work in the accounts department have to be in submitted in triplicate on a new form, RFW1 (Request For Work V1) and signed by:

1) The person requiring the work
2) The Head of Accounts
3) The I.T. Director
4) The Financial or Managing Director

Work CANNOT take place until paperwork has been received in the I.T. department with all signatures in place.

One copy of the job sheet will be retained by the accounts department, one by the I.T. department and the third copy will be held in storage, just in case we need it. All applications for work done should be written clearly in copperplate handwriting (NOT typed) using a quill pen and black ink. Job sheets submitted in any other style of handwriting will not be accepted.

Requests for work should include the reason for the work, the cost centre(s) involved, serial numbers of all equipment requiring attention, colour of equipment, the exact location of the equipment in latitude and longtitude, any unusual smells that may be present and include a full estimate of time (rounded off to the nearest tenth of a second) and materials (estimates to the nearest penny will be acceptable). Where a desktop PC requires attention a full list of all files held on the hard disk should be printed out before the machine is touched.

If any parts are required then the accounts department are responsible for ordering them once I.T. give a specification. Any incorrect parts ordered or received will result in the job going to the back of the queue until other work has been dealt with.

Jobs will be dealt with on a strictly 'first come first served' basis between the hours of 0900 to 1200 & 1300 to 1700. Members of staff who require repair work should be present at all times whilst work is carried out.

Protective Personal Equipment (PPE) should be provided by the accounts department before work is carried out including overalls, hard hat and goggles. A clear working area of six feet six inches (two metres) should be available around any equipment requiring attention.

If any further materials are required to return the equipment to operation then work will cease until the entire paperwork has been submitted again, this time with the correct figures. If time other than that authorised is required then a TAA1 (Time Authorisation Authority V1) form should be filled out (using the usual copperplate handwriting but this time in green ink). Both items of paperwork MUST be signed by the members of Roberts Group management above.

On completion of the work the I.T. department will require the equipment to be soak tested for a minimum of 48 (forty eight) hours. As this represents a security risk the person requesting the work should be present throughout. Costs of sleeping bags and flasks of hot tea should be claimed on expenses through the usual channels.

The equipment will then be flash tested to four hundred volts to ensure safety.

Once soak testing has been completed to the satisfaction of I.T. department staff a Certificate of Conformity (in triplicate) will be issued. This should be signed by the following people before the equipment is brought back into service:

1) The person requiring the work
2) The Head of Accounts
3) The I.T. Director
4) The Financial or Managing Director
5) The member of I.T. staff carrying out the work

The users copy of the certificate should be displayed in a prominent position on the desk of the person using the equipment, with one copy returned to file (just in case) and the third copy collated with the original order requiring the work. If we are unable to collate a certificate of conformity with a properly formatted work order then the equipment that has been worked on will be confiscated and held in a quarantine area until we can resolve the error. This may take some time.

These new procedures should enable the I.T. department to maintain a tight control on operational costs and provide a rigid analysis of time and materials used. Reports using this data will be issued from time to time and will be available in either Ancient Greek, Latin or Sanskrit. Reports written in hyroglyphics may be available but at extra cost because of the software.

If there are any teething problems with this new procedure then I am of course open to suggestions so that the wheels of commerce can run more smoothly.

Ed Almos
I.T. Manager

Some hints from somone who hates management (2, Interesting)

Mostly a lurker (634878) | about 9 years ago | (#13693999)

I cannot stand the games you must play as a middle manager. For me, there is much more satisfaction in a senior technical role. For those who want the aggravation of management, the most important hint is to recognise who in the organisation can get things done (usually one or two individuals and often not the most senior) and make certain you are friends, however unpleasant he/she may be. That arsehole in accounting who has the ear of the CFO can save you a lot of grief and is well worth some beers and evenings of asinine conversation.

Your answer (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | about 9 years ago | (#13694018)

"What are some of the bureaucratic black arts that you've performed in your workplace to work around the office politics and get your work done on time and to a high standard?" .50 caliber automated sentry guns.

Anglo-American business, not all business. (2, Interesting)

Numen (244707) | about 9 years ago | (#13694019)

Recognise firstly that you're probably considering the Anglo-American model of business, and then realise the world outside the US and UK is a big place.

If a different model of business would you suspect serve you better, move.

This isn't the snide "if you don't like it ship out" remark, it's a genuine suggestion that you might prefer a different model of business. I know it comes as a shock to many American and Brits when they realise that their model of business isn't the way all countries do business.

I got fed-up with the bullshit that surrounded working in London so I moved to Spain. In a few years I'll probably check out France or Italy... I'm not talking about a young mans bus mans holiday either, I'm 36 and an experienced programmer/developer.

This also isn't to suggest other countries are better or worse... there's advantages and disadvantages to any model. Simply there are differences, and a variety of expressed values in business.

The upside also is that trying such a move is actually quite low risk. For most people (not all I'd admit), trying work in a different country can only enhance their CV even should the person decide the experiment is a failure.

If you are interested in trying it out... find a place abroad where lots of your nationality holiday... that has a "resort" presence, and preferably where plenty of your nationality are buying property. Chances are there's a fair few local property management companies that have a really hard time getting hold of good developers. Start learning the local language, and if you do decide you want to stay you can start integrating yourself more into the local business.

American and British programmers have a good reputation abroad.... Well actually I know British programmers do, and my assumption is American programmers would too.

From a lot of what people are expressing here as how they'd prefer to do things in business.... learn German. The German model of business fits a lot of what people are describing. Or if you fancy something less extreme, get a job in London which is just starting an upturn at the moment. The business there will be the Anglo-American model you're familiar with just slightly less extreme.

The world's a big place and you have a lot of choices.
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